Playing professional

The varsity boys basketball team went to Milwaukee to play against Johnsburg High School at the Bucks’s stadium

Marko Visnjevac dribbles the ball down the court on Sunday, Nov. 27 against Johnsburg at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee where the Bucks play.

Walking through the tunnel, the varsity boys basketball team looks up at the seats surrounding them. The lights shine down on them as they warm up. The game is about to begin, as thoughts rush through their head on how the team performs today on the NBA court. 

The boys basketball team traveled to Milwaukee on Nov. 27 to play a game against Johnsburg at the Fiserv Forum where the Milwaukee Bucks play.

According to Chris Madson, MCHS’s head basketball coach, “The Johnsberg coach reached out since they had never done this and they had seen that we did it in the past. I think it’s a really good not only experience for the guys, but we get to go to dinner afterwards. Then we go see a professional basketball game. It’s a really good kind of program culture building day.”

A major part about the day trip to Milwaukee is not only the actual basketball game, but a team bonding opportunity. 

“I think it’s a really good opportunity and it’s going to be really fun to do it with my teammates I’m really close with,” explained Caleb Jett. “It’s going to be a really cool experience. I think just the experience and being able to play. That’s all it’s about, pretty much making the memories.”

The coaches find it very important that the team used the day to bond and to create memories that will last a lifetime. 

“I hope they become closer as a team,” described Madson. “I think when you go through cool memories and cool moments, that’s like the whole goal. You can kind of always think back to those memories and those experiences. I think as coaches that’s what we want our guys to have really strong memories from high school with their teammates and coaches, but  have that experience to be able to say ‘I played on the same floor as my favorite basketball player.’”

Heading into the game, the players and coaches were feeling confident that they would be able to accomplish their third win.

I think when you go through cool memories and cool moments, that’s like the whole goal. You can kind of always think back to those memories and those experiences.”

— Coach Chris Madsen

“We can accomplish a win,” explained Zachary Maness. “We played these guys our whole lives and stuff so we know their personnel and just everything about them so it’s definitely a game we can win. We’ve done scouting and self-watch film on all this. Which helps with confidence and just going into the game.”

While most appeared to not be nervous, they were about to play on an NBA floor. This can result in an array of emotions heading into the game, but it was key for the players to stay confident in themselves and the team, which is something that the coaches stressed to their players. 

“We told our guys just to go out there and play really hard, have fun, and make plays. I think a little bit of shock and awe at first will when they get out there. It’s a big arena. It’s a local rivalry type opponent, but I hope they come out really, really aggressive and play really competitive,” explained Madson. 

As the team walked into the stadium, everyone looked around in excitement to play. 

“You just saw the lights shining on us and all the seats,” described Marko Visnjevac. “That’s probably the most exciting thing we could ask for as a team. It made the game so much more special.”

The game versus Johnsburg ended, 58-55 McHenry, according to the  McHenry athletic page. It was a close game, but Visnjevac’s fourth quarter three-pointer secured the win. 

Some of the players had favorite highlights and moments in the game that stuck out to them when the game was over. For Visnjevac, it was the three-pointer shot that pushed them over Johnsburg to win the game. 

“That was the best feeling I’ve ever had in a while. We are playing at the Bucks arena, big three pointer, and then we win. That’s the best thing I could ask for,” described Visnjevac. 

Other players also accomplished large feats in the game, for example, Stone made a half-court shot at the end of the third quarter. 

“It was like the end of the third. From my angle, it definitely was not airborne, but I guess my momentum just carried it. It just went in and I didn’t even think it did. I even looked towards the bench and then I heard everybody celebrating. I looked up and just saw it go in,” explained Stone. “I was so happy because it was a crazy shot. Everybody just came up and pushed me around and celebrated. As we were talking after that third quarter going into the fourth little break everybody was smiling, our morale was boosted. It was the best.”

Throughout the game, the team worked together to play the best game they could.

You just saw the lights shining on us and all the seats. That’s probably the most exciting thing we could ask for as a team. It made the game so much more special.”

— Marko Visnjevac

“I think quarters one through three we played pretty good defense, very solid offense. Mark had quick cut shots, everybody did all around,” explained Stone. “We were getting to the red pretty easy, but in the fourth quarter midway through we kind of let up, everybody kind of checked out mentally thinking we already had the game on a wrap and we kind of lost it there. We kind of just let them pull away until they took the lead. Then Marko’s clutch three in the corner, and then Madson drew up a great play for him. Then just solid defense from there.”

From the game, they learned that score does not matter. The team has to keep the same effort throughout the game and not let up. 

“Do not take any moment for granted because once you do and skip over that. One tiny little moment and you look up at the score and you’re down,” explained Stone. “I was celebrating too much. We were getting in over our heads. I would say my main lesson was it’s very big, but not celebrating too early. Staying locked in during the big moments, even if we were up 20 something.”

The team learned how to better other aspects of the game too, and plan to carry this forward as the season progresses. 

“We are just trying to teach them to be competitive, every possession, every game, and those will equate to successful wins. That’s the one thing that we all need to work on,” described Nemic.

The team learned from the game, and created team memories that will never fade. This is important for them to carry through the season to continue to learn and grow as a team.